A visit to the Health Centre in Jàvea to have blood tested (for which I had to be there at 8:15 am) was a bad enough start to the day but my daughter assured me that, once over, we could have a leisurely drive to the hospital for my hip x-ray. We could stop somewhere and enjoy coffee with a view…
The staff and other patients in the Salud were as kind as ever. They could see I was struggling to walk and balance with two sticks, so I was ushered to the front of every queue once my name had been called. It was not long before Gaile was fetching the car for stage two of our journey.
She had been advised that Calpe would be less crowded than Denia so, as our route took us towards Benitachell, we decided to stop off at the Inn on the Green for a late Breakfast. This meant another ‘short’ walk (no walk is actually short, at the moment, they are all traumatic). We did have the pleasure of watching a bowls match while we ate, so it was worth it, but, by the time I had struggled back into the car, I was feeling tired.
Gaile had taken advice on how to find the Hospital in Calpe, but made the fatal mistake of switching on the GPS, just to make sure. The instructions were excellent, taking us straight into the area of Calpe where the Hospital was meant to be. However, it was not quite as obvious as we had been promised. After a couple of passes through the area where it was meant to be (with no clear signage to indicate that we were in the right place) she decided, despite our mutual misgivings, to accept the help the GPS was offering.
We were soon lost amid winding lanes through endless housing estates on ever-rising ground. In the distance, far below, we could see the town of Calpe, receding. How often had I viewed this crowded hillside from the motorway on drives to Alicante – never dreaming I would one day be trapped on it!
Perhaps it was my imagination, but I could swear the female on the GPS was growing hysterical. She was leading us in circles and my thoughts drifted to the Flying Dutchman. Eventually, by switching her off, Gaile found her way back onto the N332 and we wound our way back down. The advantage of arriving from a fresh direction at the roundabout where the hospital was supposed to be, was that the signage, hidden by trees from the other side, was now clear. Gaile managed to pull to the kerbside at the hospital entrance and, instructing me to sit tight, ran inside to find a wheelchair for me.
Once inside, she discovered that the ticket machine was empty and the queue to see the receptionist (to ask about a wheelchair for me), was long. Conscious that I was in the car in a drop off / pick up zone, she was delighted to see that the lady from the Help Desk was still there. Very kindly, the lady volunteered to track down a wheelchair, expecting there to be one near A&E. It took the poor woman an age and a lot of running about to track one down…
It was a worryingly long time before Gaile returned. I had no idea of the problems that she and the Help Desk Lady were facing, but I did know that I was in everybody’s way and was being glared at by frustrated drivers who couldn’t pick up or drop off anyone, because, although there were two slots, one had a parked car left in it, with no occupant or badge.
There must have been quite a wheelchair shortage, but eventually my harassed daughter appeared and having re-parked me inside the hospital door, she shot off to move the car. I could not have coped using my sticks, I was far too tired, so, hopefully everyone can forgive us!
We completed the whole show in reverse when we left and, as I sat waiting while the wheelchair was returned, I reflected on how amazingly kindly I had been treated by everyone. Throughout the day, everywhere we went, on the few occasions Gaile had to leave me while she dashed to get or do something (car / wheelchair / information), seeing me alone, strangers offered me help – really caring – and were reluctant to leave me until my ‘Carer’ appeared… I feel really lucky to be in Spain.